Business & Technology

Nanotubes: the next asbestos?

Lessons from the asbestos crisis should guide the response to nanotechnology, but will they?

The story of asbestos in this country ought to serve as a cautionary tale: A seemingly miraculous fiber was widely introduced into common consumer products; only after it was already in millions of homes did the general public realize that it causes a particularly terrible form of cancer. Now, treating victims and cleaning up contaminated communities is costing billions of dollars, and thousands of people endure the toll of a debilitating and deadly disease. Nanotechnology is another innovation that promises to bring consumer products to a whole new level -- and, once again, it looks like nano products will become widespread and entrenched before we have a complete picture of what the risks are.

Consumers shunning hefty hybrids

Automakers may have assumed that hybrid SUVs would be a hit with the eco-minded-soccer-mom market, but drivers aren’t buying it — literally. Analysts are seeing a tepid reaction to SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid …

Green group highlights biz innovations

The Environmental Defense Fund has produced a new report highlighting processes, products, and technologies that are making the biz world more eco-friendly. The green group’s Innovations Review 2008 draws attention to developments good for both …

Airline slows down to reduce emissions

Scandinavian airline SAS has found a viable way to cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions and fuel costs: fly slower. The airline has been testing slower speeds since early 2006, and says it has saved some …

Consumers in the driver's seat

It’s shifting consumer demand that will drive increases in vehicle fuel efficiency

I frequently read about perceived (or alleged) disagreements between the environmental community and the auto industry. A few of them are real disagreements over policy, many are practical disagreements over how best to achieve common goals, but many perceived disagreements are not, in fact, disagreements at all. For instance, some people believe the auto industry stands in the way of higher average fuel efficiency in the U.S. That's just not the case, which I'll explain in a moment. First, an area of agreement: in his New York Times column, Paul Krugman writes about fuel efficiency and our automotive future:

Mazzocchi, Speth, and capitalism's future

Ted Glick on two new books that address capitalism and the environment

I don't know if Gus Speth and Tony Mazzocchi knew each other personally. But as two fascinating books make clear, their distinct life experiences led them both to believe that the capitalist system which now dominates most of the world is the ultimate problem humanity must face up to and deal with if we are to survive.

Toyota's foresight pays off, part two

Why hybrids beat diesels

The best thing about the Prius is that it achieves its high fuel economy without sacrificing size or performance and, most importantly for global warming, without being a diesel. There seems to be a lot of confusion on this point, so let me elaborate. Bottom Line: If you care about global warming, don't buy a diesel car (certainly not in this country), and if you must buy a diesel, only get a new one with a very good particle trap. [Does this mean that Europe's massive switch to diesel was not good for the climate? In a word,"probably."]

Last flight out

Richard Heinberg bids adieu to cheap flight: The airline industry has no future. The same is true for airfreight. No air carrier has a viable plan to make a profit with oil at current prices -- much less in years to come as the petroleum available to world markets dwindles rapidly. That's not to say that jetliners will disappear overnight, but rather that the cheap flights we've seen in the past will soon be fading memories. In a few years jet service will be available only to the wealthy, or to the government and military.

Obama talks up green while courting manufacturers

Barack Obama courted manufacturers in Michigan Wednesday, touting proposals to boost both green energy and the auto industry. He talked up a plan to auction carbon credits and use the funds to boost clean technology …

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